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4 Ways to Get People Talking in Your Bible Study … This Week!

Sometimes all I heard in adult Bible study was the buzzing of the overhead lights or the ticking of the clock’s second hand. It’s hard to get people to be involved! Here are four tips to help get people more actively involved in your Bible study.

Teach the Word1.  Pair them up—When you divide people into pairs it means that everyone is engaged. Even a person who is uncomfortable discussing his or her ideas with the whole group can still share thoughts with others and also hear other people's thoughts. It may seem to be taking up precious time during the study, but it allows people to think about their ideas before jumping into a whole-class conversation.

  • Example: On your own, take one minute to list ways our congregation can help remind people of their baptism. Share your list with the person next to you. Select one of the ideas your pair can share with the rest of the class.
  • Example: Read 3 John 9,10. With a partner, do the following: (1) Design a character sketch of Diotrephes and show why he was dangerous to John’s first readers; (2) From your list of Diotrephes’ characteristics, select what you think could cause the most damage to a congregation and give reasons why you think that. After four minutes we will hear how the pairs responded.

2.  Break into small groups—For some, speaking to a large group can be intimidating. Public speaking is one of the biggest fears people have. If a person converses with only two to four others, it isn’t as scary. More voices are engaging in dialogue. If you aren’t at tables (such as in chairs or pews), have the participants form groups in their row or by turning toward those in front of them or behind them.

  • Example: In Ephesians 4:1-6, we see how important it is that our God keeps us together with fellow Christians. There is strength in being connected to other Christians in our congregation and with the whole Christian church. We don’t want to do anything to spoil that unity. In groups of three to five people (or on your own if you prefer), list the four Christian qualities in verse 2 and explain how practicing each quality will strengthen the bonds we have with other Christians, keeping “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (vs. 3).
  • Example: Unity among Christians is vital. In groups of three to five people (or on your own if you prefer) use Ephesians 4:14-16 to teach the importance of Christian unity to someone who thinks, “I can tackle things on my own.”

Suggestion: You may have some in your study who do not want to talk with others in a group, even a small group. That’s just the way they are. Including the phrase “or on your own if you prefer” in your description helps to give them an out and avoids forcing them to do something they may be dreading.

3.  Open questions—Use questions that don’t simply have the “Jesus,” “God,” “Bible,” “yes,” “no,” one-word answers. Open questions require a response that is beyond a one-word answer, and they invite dialogue.

  • Example of a closed question: Where was Jesus born? Answer: Bethlehem.
  • Example of an open question: Jesus was born in Bethlehem. For what reasons was it important for him to be born there? Some possible answers: It fulfilled prophecy. The Messiah would be born there. It connected him to King David. It was part of God’s plan for the shepherds and Magi.

4.  Assign different tasks to different groups—If you have tables in your setting, assign each table a learning task to be accomplished in a certain amount of time. If you want to cover larger sections of Scripture (like a chapter), assign a portion of each chapter to different tables. Have the tables “teach” the rest of the class what they discovered in their assigned portion. People feel comfortable talking around a table. Even having the table in front of people gives them a sense of security to talk and share.

  • Example: Those sitting at the odd numbered tables complete activity A. Those sitting at the even numbered tables complete activity B. Take three minutes to complete your activity.
    • Activity A - In Ephesians 5:8-14, Christians are called to act against impure actions and words. At your table, list five actions from these verses that the Christian is to take. Decide as a group which one you think would be the most difficult to carry out and give the reasons why.
    • Activity B - You are standing before a group of college students. Your reputation precedes you that you are a wise Christian and they want to hear what you have to say. At your table, use Ephesians 5:15-20 to teach these college students what it means to live wisely.

Check back next month to see four more ways to get people engaged and dialogue flowing in your Bible study.